Title: The Twelve Interludes to the Life of Daniel Meade.

Rating: M. There be a bit o' smut toward the end.

Synopsis: No matter how exotic human civilization becomes, no matter the developments of life and society nor the complexity of the machine/human interface, there always comes interludes of lonely power when the course of humankind, the very future of humankind, depends upon the relatively simple actions of single individuals.

Disclaimer: Nothing's mine. I just like to play with them once and again.

N/B: Set up to middle of Season 3 B.M. (Before Molly). If this gets a good response I'll write a Betty POV version, so let me know if you think it's good/shite/ya wouldn't let your dog try to read it lol x

Suggested Playlist: Florence and the Machine; Cosmic Love, 3 Doors Down; Let Me Go, Samantha Moore; Replace You, Lady Gaga; Paparazzi, Arctic Monkey's; When The Sun Goes Down, Bell X1; Flame, The Black Ghosts; Full Moon

i. Everyday is the start of something beautiful.

His father told him not to, and Daniel Meade knows what that means. It means he has to. He must sleep with his new assistant or he risks losing. Losing what, he isn't sure, but he knows he will lose. And that just cannot happen. He evaluates her from his desk. The woman is highly unfashionable and that's just where it starts. Her red cardigan clashes garishly with her hot pink skirt, a rainbow coloured band highlights her frazzled brown hair, and her red glasses sit crooked on her nose. He thinks that can't be because she sat on them, as heaven knows, if that were the case those glasses wouldn't have lived to read another trashy erotic novel before a lonely night cap and bed.

That's another thing. He wonders if she is still a virgin, because that would make things a whole lot more complicated. Perhaps a little bit more pleasurable for him (only a little bit mind you) but complicated nonetheless. The girl probably hasn't been on a date since...perhaps she hasn't even been on a date. He would probably have to fuck her in his office. That's the only thing for it. Usually he would use dinner in a fancy restaurant as a way of seducing any potential mate; however he cannot be seen with girl in public. It would ruin his image – he would have tons of ugly women throwing themselves at him because they'll think that's what he likes. No no – it needs to be the office. And probably bent over. He can't really think of any other plausible or workable position. And she'll have those love handles he's heard about. Those will help with grip.

"Mr Meade?"

"Hmm?"

"Are you ok?"

He glances up at the freckled girl in front of him.

"Yes, I'm fine Betty," he grits through clenched teeth. She's going to be a pest, he can tell already. But he can solve that. All he has to do is take one for the team.

"I was just wondering if you would like me to pick you up some lunch now."

She will probably have eaten it by the time she makes it back to the elevator.

"No thank you," he dismisses her, "Just get me reservations for Amanda and I in the Ivy."

"No problem," she replies, baring the steel of her thick braces. He unconsciously licks his own bare white teeth. It had been a long time since he'd kissed a girl with braces. And that had been quite a disaster when she decided she wanted to kiss somewhere else for him. Nope. That did it.

His father was going to just have to win this one. It wasn't worth the point. He'd find another way to one up his dad, but Betty Suarez wasn't it.

ii. Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

She stays late every night. He gives her extra work just to see if she'll sacrifice as much as he thinks she will for him. A little bit of his male ego getting the better of him. All the women want Daniel Meade, even if he doesn't want them. And there she sits devotedly, the computer screen reflecting off her glasses, her fingers tapping off the keys. Every morning she has his bagel and coffee and she follows him around like one of those loyal golden retrievers. Shame she's not as attractive. He realises he's been watching her for a while. Deep down he will admit, her loyalty does impress him. In an odd way he thinks that Betty Suarez may be the only person to grace his life and not betray him. He's still waiting for the knife though.

He leaves his office, pulling on his expensive Dior coat. "You can go home now Betty."

"No....thanks..." she breathes quietly, completely transfixed by the computer screen.

"Whatever it is can wait until tomorrow."

She snorts in that geeky way he's only ever seen in films. He's taken back by her dismissive laugh and she realises, straightening up and meeting his surprised gaze. "Sorry Mr Meade, it's just...if I wanna be an editor got to learn to work late. To delegate my workload."

She wants to be an editor? Now that he didn't know. It was surprising to him that someone like her might have ambitions. He thought that being his assistant was enough. Some people were just plain greedy.

"An editor? That's the big dream?" he chuckles. She looks hurt and he regrets it for a moment. "Sorry I mean...I just thought people like you would be happy just getting an assistants job."

Her mouth hangs open, and she blinks letting out a chuckle of her own. "People like me Mr Meade? Do you mean a woman from a poor back ground? Or a woman from a Mexican background?"

"That's not what I meant Betty."

"It's one or the other. Either you're a sexist snob or you're a racist sexist snob. Which one are you?"

He has no comeback; he has no smart witty reply. "I do apologise Miss Suarez," he says eventually when he realises nothing will make this better, "I did not mean it how it was intended."

She nods, accepting his apology and turning her attention back to the computer. "Goodnight Mr Meade."

He leaves, quite in awe. He was just put in his place by his assistant and he has this odd feeling it may happen again.

iii. You don't just luck into things as much as you would like to think you do. You build step by step, whether it is friendships or opportunities.

He spies her curiously wondering if she's noticed. Their previous night time office exchange had stuck with him like a tiresome girl you sleep with once but turns into a clingy stalker. He didn't like that he insulted her. A small part of him knew that she certainly didn't deserve it. She was trying her best to impress everyone around her and this evoked a strange feeling from Daniel Meade. It wasn't sympathy nor was it pity. It felt more like admiration.

She approaches her desk unzipping her puffy blue coat and scarf, throwing them neatly over the back of her chair. She does her usual scan of her desk and he gulps when she notices the neatly bonded folder on top of her keyboard. She picks it up, clearly confused and as a slow smile spreads across her rounded face, his own lips follow suit. As she looks up toward her boss he grunts and focuses his gaze on nothing in particular on his computer. He hears a soft knock. He wonders if she has come to berate him for his gesture. She will probably belittle him; let him know she has won, that she was right.

"Mr Meade?"

"Yes Betty," he says without looking up.

"Thank you. For the book of contacts. I think it will be helpful."

There is no condescending tone. She was being sincere. It is a foreign concept to him.

"You're welcome."

He looks up and she has retreated back to her desk, smiling insanely. He laughs, shaking his head. It was a step. A small one, but a step nonetheless.

iv. Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.

He likes having her around. He's not used to liking people around him. Anyone in his life wants to fuck him over or just simply fuck him. She doesn't appear to want to do either. It unnerves him slightly. He spends a lot of the day thinking on her intentions, trying to figure her out.

It's in one day, not a special day, nothing interesting in particular had occurred, but in this day he asks her. He tells her he has someone in his life and it's different from everyone else. She asks if he's in love and he laughs. No, definitely not love. So she asks him why this feeling bothers him. And he tells her it's because he doesn't know whether or not he can trust this person. She looks at him, head tilted eyes amused, before drumming her fingers off her desk thoughtfully. After a pause, she tells him to just trust the feeling. If it's something new in his life let it happen, let whoever it is in.

He says that's a risk.

She replies that anything that's worth anything has some kind of risk.

v. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason

The first time he sleeps with Betty Suarez it is in his office. Much like he predicted, just not in the manner he expected. They'd been going over back issues together, both ending up on the same sofa, the floor and desk strewn with paper. He can't remember what he was talking about, but he hadn't taken a breath or pause in about ten minutes. He stopped only to check if she was still following but he got no response. Her head suddenly felt heavy on his shoulder and he took a careful glance at her face.

She had fallen asleep, snoring lightly, mouth parted. He leaned over, smiling and gently brushed hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. She merely sighed and snuggled in closer.

Now Daniel Meade has always been a touchy feely kind of guy. The smallest gestures – hugging, hand holding - mean very little to him. They're just another way of getting what he wanted, namely, sex. And Daniel liked sex. Period. He loves women; he loved their curves, their smell, their hands, their legs. He appreciates this beauty in the only way he really knows how. But this was completely different. When he touched Betty's face he felt something. It wasn't something he could name but it was there.

Daniel just slept with a woman, just fell asleep, and it finally meant something.

vi. In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing

He has decided now. He has decided he wants her in his life. And not just in his work life. He wants her as a friend. There are not many people in his life that he can trust like he does her. She is perhaps the most honest and good person he knows.

Daniel likes that.

vii. But then it stopped and I was in the darkness – so darkness I became

Sofia hurt him. And mostly he blames Betty. She was the one who taught him to let people in. She taught him to be this snivelling idiot around women. He wishes he had never changed, at least with how he was before he could never get hurt. He is able to pinpoint the exact moment it all changed, and it as soon he began to trust Betty. So she deserved it when he yelled at her in the club, when he told her to back off. He isn't the one with the problem – it's her. She obsesses over him, she idolises him. It's not his fault if she's not happy with the decisions he makes. He didn't ask her to put him on a pedestal.

She had always been like this. She has unreal expectations of the world. As a friend it's his job to show her things might not turn out how she wants or how they should.

"You called her name," the brunette beside him mumbles, playing with her long manicured fingernails. He takes another long puff of his cigarette – another thing Betty would be disappointed about if she knew.

"Sorry." That's really all he can manage there's no point trying to excuse it. He was trying to fuck that frustrating woman out of his head. "Did I hurt you?"

"A little. She must have really made you mad."

"We'll go to lunch tomorrow, I'll make up for it." His tone is blunt, unconvincing. And what little self respect this girl has for herself (he had early heard her make herself ill in his bathroom after dinner) she finally uses it. She swings her slender legs out the bed and pulls on her long trench coat, buttoning it up. "The money is on the kitchen table."

"Thanks."

"Maybe you should talk to her, the girl," she suggests, staring at a spot on the ground.

"I didn't ask for your opinion."

"Yeah well," she sighs, her heels tapping off the floor as she makes her way to the front door, "Find yourself another Betty. I don't think my body can take much more of a beating."

All he could think as she left was that it was only one tenth of what he actually wanted to do his little assistant. Anything else and he was afraid he would really hurt her.

viii. The stars the moon – they have all been blown out. You have left me in the dark. No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight. In the shadow of your heart.

He forgave her quickly. He knew he would. Those brown puppy dog eyes staring back at him it was hard not to. Although he does realise that it should have been the other way around – she should have been the one forgiving him for all his sins. He has been horrible to her, that he knows. Reverted back to the person he was when they first met, a person he doesn't care to remember.

Well anyway the point is they're friends again and this time he will make the effort. And it starts with this Henry guy. Daniel does not like the little dweeb. Not one little bit. And it's not just because he has to share his Betty ('Betty – just Betty!' he corrects himself) with the nerd but because he's knocked up some poor girl in another state and still insists on dating Betty. And she's so dumb/blind she can't see what's staring her right in the face. That this accountant is no good for her. And Daniel knows there's no point him even trying to talk sense into his headstrong assistant; the last time he tried she bit his head off. So instead he watches helplessly from his desk as she spruces up for her date tonight, glossing her lips with soft pink, wearing a very simple black dress (which is so just not her, it kind of makes him angry). She stands up and comes to the office, and he quickly averts his gaze back to the mock ups.

"Hey Daniel, is it ok if I take off?"

"Going somewhere nice?" he mumbles, squinting at the photos, feigning a disinterest he doesn't really feel.

"I'm going to dinner with Henry. He's taking me to a really fancy restaurant."

There's a twisting in his chest. There was a time that being seen out with Betty Suarez disgusted him, and now she's the only person he feels proud to be seen with. Who was he to judge Henry? He was the real jackass. He looks up at her standing innocently at his desk, her face expectant. Maybe she wants him to comment on her outfit? Should he? Would it be appropriate? And if he does should he be honest and tell her he misses the colour? Or should he tell her she looks amazingly pretty and that those are the only two words he can think of?

Clearly he misses the moment, whatever the moment was, because she's backing towards the door with the most disappointed look on her face. He stands quickly, and the movement startles both of them. Betty laughs.

"Are you going to chase me? Because honestly Daniel I think you can do without me for one night!"

"What?" he asks, confused, "Oh...no. I was just going to walk you out. You know, to meet Henry."

"Oh that's so sweet, but it's ok. He's meeting me at the elevator," she beams. There was that warm fuzzy feeling again.

"Ok then. Have a good night."

She smiles and gives a little wave as she disappears from his office. He sits staring after the path she left for what seems like hours, but realistically is about twenty minutes before deciding he needs to use the bathroom. His head is a flurry of all things confused and he wants nothing more than a few good Scotches and a nice blonde to fuck. Something things never change. When he walks into the men's bathroom he hears a soft sobbing from one of the cubicles, and clearly not a man's sobbing. He wonders should he ask if the person is ok. It's what Betty would want him to do. The door from which the crying comes is slightly ajar and he knocks before entering. After all he doesn't want to walk in on some horribly awkward moment in a cubicle.

"Hello? Are you ok?" he asks, keeping his voice soft.

"Daniel?" comes the meek response. His heart sinks. Betty.

He pushes the door open and finds her sitting on the floor by the toilet, knees pulled up to her chest, mascara running.

"Hey," he says, crouching down beside her, "Hey...what's wrong?"

She lifts her head to meet his gaze and he wipes a tear from her cheek.

"He went to Charlie, she needs like pickles and ice cream or something," she tells him through sniffles. This is moment. He could be brutally honest and hurt her forever. He could tell her of course Henry did, that Charlie is having his kid, and no matter how fantastic Betty was, that would always come first. He could tell her she would always be second choice. But he doesn't. Instead he occupies the space beside her, reaching around her shoulders and pulling her to him. She covers her face with her palms and cries out into his chest, sobbing violently. He doesn't care that her mascara wipes against the white of his 400 dollar Prada white shirt, or what he could catch from sitting on the floor in the men's bathroom. He just needs to be there. For once, Daniel just needs to hold her. Because really that's all anyone needs sometimes.

ix. Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.

He can't put his finger on it. Something is different, he knows it. Did she change her hair? Did she lose weight? Get a new handbag? Whatever it was Betty Suarez has changed. She went travelling, and came back to him this educated, philosophical woman, someone who had grown and learnt. And here he is still the same.

"So that's your last meet for the day, and then you can go home...Daniel?" she asks waving her pen in front of his eyes.

"Hmm?"

"What? Have I got something on my mouth?" she says, rubbing her face self-consciously.

"What? No. No your face is fine Betty," he assures her. Great, now she looks more confused. She begins glancing over her shoulder, desperately trying to find what Daniel is staring at.

"Erm...Daniel? What's wrong?"

He squirms in his seat. He really can't believe he's about to ask. "Have you done something different?"

"Different? With what? Something in the office?"

He swears, sometimes, despite all her worldly wisdom, she can be as clueless as him. "Different with your hair...or something?"

She looks surprised, confused almost. "Em...well I lost some weight when I was away? But yeah that's about it."

He chuckles, disbelieving that something as slight as a few pounds would have him transfixed on his assistant.

"Oh right, well you look good," he tells her with a small smile. He can tell she's flattered, and despite the number of women Daniel Meade has flattered over the years, she seems a little more special.

x. When you're comfortable with someone you love, the silence is the best.

It's a simple moment, and Daniel is beginning to learn that it is the simple moments with Betty that turn into the most meaningful. There's nothing special to distinguish the scene – they're together in his office (working late as they so often do), both on the floor going over the mock ups together. Betty says something that makes him laugh, a genuine laugh, something he hasn't heard himself do in a while and he moves so his head can rest in her lap. She doesn't flinch, instead moves so he his more comfortable and keeps her eyes focused on the article in her hand. Her other hand however has found itself tangling in his soft boyish hair, and she's talking to him like it's the most normal thing in the world. She pokes his cheek playfully with the end of her pen and he bats her hand away, laughing. If Daniel were to analyse the moment, he knows he would be terrified. He knows he would run from that office and to the bed of the next woman standing outside the Meade building. So his brain blocks out anything but the laughter and comfort.

He likes it here with her, so why should he allow himself to run?

xi. We all know, from what we experience with and within ourselves, that our conscious acts spring from our desires and our fears...though our conduct seems so very different from that of the higher animals, the primary instincts are much alike in them and in us

He enters gently, afraid that any harder she may break. The slight brunette below him writhes in pleasure, moaning like a porn star already. Daniel Meade knows he's good in bed, but he's not that good. He begins to thrust closing his eyes, concentrating on the task at hand. She moans loader and loader and it is all he can do to block out the ridiculous noise. When he opens his eyes again, everything in his world does that slow motion glowy thing that he's seen so frequently in movies. He sees Betty underneath, smiling up at him with the naughtiest grin on her face. He smiles back, stopping for a moment to lean down and kiss her lips. He feels her giggle against him and he begins to move playfully inside her, his hand flitting down between them to rub her clit. She gasps, making the most delicious noise at the back of her throat. He's desperate to hear it again and fucks her with such sensual skill she arches her back, gasping for air. He can feel her coming beneath him, everything contracting, her body shaking. And he comes with her, grunting his release into her chest. He can't catch his breath, burrowing further into the woman's chest below him.

"Wow," she breathes, wiping sweat from her brow, "Wow. Just wow. What were you thinking about?"

"All you Baby," he whispers, licking behind her ear, "All you."

Somewhere he knew his father was fuming. Last point to Daniel Meade.

xii. Your actions will follow you full circle around.

He has decided now. He has decided he needs her in his life. And not just in his work life. He needs her as a friend. He may need her as more, though as yet he cannot admit it. There are not many people in his life that he can trust like he does her. She is perhaps the most honest and good person he knows. That hasn't changed, even though God knows, everything else has. She is his one constant.

Daniel likes that.